Roasted Shrimp & Feta Quinoa (THM E)

Summer is just around the corner, which means two things: 1) less cooking time (because your house it too hot already) and 2) lots of fresh, vibrant flavors. Enter, this beautiful quinoa salad.

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I did roast the shrimp in the oven, but you could also grill them for an even quicker meal.

To roast the shrimp, and stay in E mode, start by preheating your oven to 400. Place the shrimp onto a large baking sheet lined with foil, spray lightly with coconut oil spray, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Roast the shrimp at 400 for about 6 minutes – it may be more or less depending on the size and thickness of your shrimp. When they’re done, they will be firm to the touch, pink and opaque on the outside.

All that’s left is to assemble the salad!

Place the cooked quinoa into a large bowl, and add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, red onion, lemon juice, and feta.

For the cucumber, make sure that you take the time (2 seconds, really) to cut out the seeds of the cucumber – yes, even if it’s “seedless”. The seeds have more moisture and will cut the shelf life of your salad significantly. You don’t want the whole batch going bad over some cucumbers! That would just be silly.

To cut the seeds out of your cucumber, slice the cuke lengthwise into quarters and cut into it on an angle so the whole “log” of seeds comes out in one cut.

Give the salad a big toss, taste for seasoning, then add your shrimp and serve.

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The great thing about this salad is that it’s wonderful at room temp or cold from the fridge. In fact, as it sits in the fridge the flavor gets even better.

The lemon juice adds a fantastic  acidity to the salad, while the herbs add tons of fresh, green flavor. This salad just screams summer to me, and it couldn’t be easier to make!

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Roasted Shrimp & Feta Quinoa (THM E)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print


Credit: Erin Murray, My Fling with Food

Ingredients

  • 1.5 – 2lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • about 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 c finely diced red onion
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 4 scallions, whites and green parts, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Spread shrimp onto a large baking sheet, spritz with coconut oil spray, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then roast at 400 for about 6 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with all other ingredients. Give it a big toss, taste for seasoning, and serve.

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Seafood for a Crowd

I have been wanting to try this amazing seafood gratin recipe out of my Barefoot Contessa cookbook for sometime, but it’s honestly a little rich for my grocery budget.

It stars two of the highest-priced items in the seafood case: halibut and lobster.

Don’t get me wrong, I will splurge and get that stuff sometimes. [More so, I’ll scour the “Manager’s Special” shelves looking for them.] It’s just not something I’ll do all the time.

So, when I saw sprouts was having a major sale on both jumbo shrimp and fresh lobster, I decided to tweak it a little and go for it.

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Now, I really went for it on this recipe. I actually made my own seafood stock. I know. It’s not something you HAVE  to do. Did it enhance the flavor? Yes. Would vegetable stock or bottled clam juice do the same? Sure. It was really easy, honestly, and since you’ll have the shells/tails from the seafood anyway…why not put them to good use?

Cook the lobster by placing it belly-up on a small baking pan. Put a few pats of butter on top and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for about 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through. Let it cool for at least 8-10 minutes before handling. Cut it right down the center with a sharp knife, and peel the meat away from the shell.

I made the stock by adding my shrimp shells and lobster tail to a few cups of my homemade scrap broth, and simmering over medium-low heat for about an hour. I skimmed out the shells, and voila! You have seafood stock.

You could even mix this up by adding in what you like: halibut, scallops, more lobster.

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Seafood Gratin (THM S)

  • 1 1/3 lbs jumbo easy-peel shrimp
  • 1 fresh lobster tail (raw, shell-on)
  • 1 c seafood stock (or substitutes from above)
  • 1 c half and half
  • 1/2 c plus a few Tablespoons of white wine
  • 3 Tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 strips of bacon, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1/4 c fresh parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tsp fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 – 1 c “bread”crumbs (I used crushed Parmesan Whisps (all cheese crackers). You can also use baking blend, pork rinds, or all cheese if you like.)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Prepare the sauce by combining stock, half and half, 1/2 c wine, tomato paste, and saffron in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low and cook for about another 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently.

While that’s happening, add a few tablespoons of butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, and carrot and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add 3 Tsp of white wine to de-glaze the pan. Cook until the alcohol reduces off, about another 3 minutes.

In a large cast iron skillet, cook the bacon until crispy and remove it to a paper towel. Cook the shrimp in the bacon fat for about 90 seconds on each side, seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Place the bacon and cooked shrimp together with the cooked lobster.

After the sauce is reduced, whisk in the xanthan gum and continue whisking over low heat until sauce is thickened to desired consistency.  Remove from heat, and combine with cooked vegetables, bacon, and seafood.

Place the mixture into a large casserole or gratin dish. Top with crushed Parmesan Whisps (or other topping of choice), parmesan cheese, tarragon, and parsley. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the top is slightly browned.

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Lovely!

Take Out at Home: Shrimp Lo Mein

Shrimp is such an easy vehicle to work with. Another great benefit is you can generally find it pretty cheap.

In the old days, before THM, I would love to gorge myself on the oily richness of lo mein. Now, I have to find new ways to have the former foods I love.

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Shrimp Lo Mein (THM FP)

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1.5 in piece of ginger, grated
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 8-10oz package shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 small head napa cabbage, sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp sesame oil
  • 1 handful sesame seeds

Cut the zucchini into thick noodles using a Vegetti, or similar.

Spray a large pan with coconut oil over medium heat, and cook the shrimp until opaque (about 2-3 minutes on each side). Remove from the pan, and set aside. Spray the pan again, and add the cabbage, mushrooms, scallions, garlic, and ginger and saute about 4-5 minutes. Season everything well with salt and pepper. Toss the hot stir fry mixture in a large bowl with the zucchini noodles, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.

This was a super easy weeknight meal with tons of flavor. Plus, this is healthier than take-out and took less time to make than to order. BOOM.

You can customize this recipe and use any protein you like: tofu, chicken, beef, or just make the noodles as a side dish.

Fresh Fish Tacos

Fish tacos can be really hit or miss. In my mind, it all depends on the toppings – they can either weigh down the taco or make it super light and fresh.

This recipe definitely falls into the fresh category! Plus, the best benefit of tacos, is that these are quick and easy to prepare.

I’m using halibut for these tacos, which can be a rather pricey fish. I’ve gotten it cheap ($9 for 3 fillets vs $8 per fillet) by buying it off the manager clearance. There’s nothing wrong with clearance items! Generally, it’s just that they’re nearing an expiration date so you either have to freeze them immediately or use them that night. If halibut isn’t in your budget, mahi mahi, cod, or even tilapia would suffice. Choose a fish with a neutral taste that you and your family will enjoy!

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Fish Tacos with Peach Salsa (THM E)

  • 1 lb or 3 fillets halibut with the skin removed (or another firm whitefish)
  • corn tortillas (gluten free, I used Mission)
  • 2 large peaches, skin removed and roughly diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime, plus more lime wedges for finishing
  • Taco toppings: lettuce, fresh sliced radishes, cilantro, etc.)
  • salt and pepper

Prepare the salsa by combining the peaches, jalapeno, juice of 1 lime, cilantro, red onion, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss to combine and set in the fridge for the flavors to develop.

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Preheat a cast iron griddle over medium heat, and coat one side of it lightly with coconut oil spray. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper. On one side of the grill, cook the fish while heating the corn tortillas on the other side (the dry side). As the fish is done cooking, remove it to a plate and squeeze a lime wedge over top. Cover with foil and let stand for about 5 minutes while everything else comes together.

Flake the fish lightly with a fork into large chunks and add it to your tortillas. Top with taco toppings of choice (I used lettuce, salsa, radishes, cilantro, and a light squeeze of lime).

How easy was that?!

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

I can’t believe that before last week, I hadn’t made panzanella in YEARS. I used to make it all the time, then it kind of dropped off the map.

Not anymore!

I figured out a way for it to be in my THM life, and that is with the secret weapon of sourdough.

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Panzanella sounds really fancy, but it’s quite simply a stale bread salad. Any crusty bread will do, and you can throw in whatever veggies you like. I used to do a version of this with mini fresh mozzarella balls too.

This one is all about that veg.

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Grilled Vegetable Panzanella (THM E)

  • 1 loaf stale sourdough
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 1 c cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 small red onion, sliced (not separated)
  • Handful of large basil leaves, torn
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper

If your bread is still on the fresher side, slice it into 4 or 5 big pieces and let it dry out on your counter for a few hours. Cut it down into large cubes, lay it on a baking sheet in one layer, spritz with coconut oil, season with garlic powder and dried parsley, and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Let it bake until firm, because the juices from the veggies and oil/vinegar will soften it some.

For the veggies, slice them into shapes that will be easy to deal with on your grill. You don’t want to bother with a bunch of tiny pieces. For the onion, I left the slices intact which caramelized nicely and were easy to turn.

Preheat your grill to medium heat, spray lightly with coconut oil and lay the veggies directly on it. No salt and pepper yet! They will soften faster without seasoning.

Once the veggies are cooked, add them to a large bowl to cool, season with salt and pepper. Allow them to cool for 8-10 minutes before adding the bread cubes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle the mixture over the bread and veggies, toss to coat. Tear a few large leaves of fresh basil in our hands over the top, and give it a toss.

I served it alongside grilled mahi mahi with a simple lemony wine sauce which was juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 small sliced shallot, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 c white wine, 1 tsp EVOO, salt and pepper. Place all of it right into a small skillet over medium heat, and reduce it until the alcohol cooks off (about 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and add a handfull of fresh parsley. This makes enough sauce for 4 filets.

You may also notice I took the time to grill some lemon wedges. This added a fabulous flavor to the mahi mahi, and honestly that could’ve been a sauce all on its own. Either direction you go, you can’t go wrong here.

The great thing about panzanella is that it only gets better with time. This is one of those recipes you can munch on all week long, and it’s just as good straight out of the fridge as it was on night 1.

 

Less Time, More Flavor

Y’all already know that my girl, Rachael Ray, and I are besties.

I have more than a few of her cookbooks, and over this last week I found myself looking for inspiration the old-fashioned way – in a book. I’ve flagged a ton of recipes, and only tried a few (much like Pinterest, no?). So, as a challenge to myself, I’m trying new recipes every week.

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Enter fishwiches.

We’ve all had a fish sandwich, right? Usually something fried, and a bit on the heavy side.

This one is a game changer.

Everything about it is bright, fresh, and hearty. The homemade sauces are what make it. I even upgraded the ketchup! Traditional ketchup off the shelf is packed with  sugar, so I’ve stopped buying it (much to my children’s dismay). I built that one from the ground up, and the store gave me some help with the mayo.

[Recipe adapted From Rachael Ray’s Just in Time Cookbook, Grilled Fish Sammies.]

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Grilled Fishwiches with Garlic Aioli and Bloody Ketchup (THM E)

  • 1 lb halibut filets, skin removed
  • Sprouted sandwich  buns
  • Sandwich toppings: lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, etc.
  • 1/4 c light mayo
  • 1 Tsp capers, lightly chopped
  • 1 Tsp fresh  chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bag frozen sweet potato fries (I used waffle style)
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 packets Truvia, or Gentle Sweet
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp (up to 1 Tsp) prepared horseradish
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • salt and pepper

For the garlic aioli, combine light mayo, capers, lemon, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, and set in the fridge.

For the ketchup, whisk the water and tomato paste until well combined. Adjust the water as needed, adding a little at a time. Too thick, add more water. Add the apple cider vinegar, salt, and sweetener. Adjust until you achieve the regular “ketchup” flavor you like. Then add the Worcestershire, horseradish, hot sauce, and taste for salt and pepper. Set that in the fridge until go time.

Begin by cooking the fries according to package directions. For my THMers, I place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, to avoid having to spray. You can gloss them with a small spritz of coconut oil if you like. Also, one of my best tips (especially for summer cooking) is to throw those puppies in the oven before it’s preheated. Your cooking time will be less, and you won’t have to crank the temperature way up to get them done sooner.

For the fish, preheat a cast iron (or outdoor) grill to medium heat, and spray lightly with coconut oil. Season the fish simply with salt and pepper. Place the filets on the hot grill, and grill until they cook through (about 3-4 minutes on each side for my 3/4 in. filets).

After the filets are done cooking, slice the sandwich rolls and place them cut-side down on the warm grill to lightly toast.

Build your sandwich with the toppings of your choice (I’m a lettuce, tomato, onion gal) and a smear of garlic aioli. Serve it up with your crunchy fries and bloody ketchup.

If you’ve never tried halibut, DO NOT BE AFRAID. This was my first time cooking and eating halibut and I can honestly say I loved it. My creatures loved it too! Plus, it was super easy to work with. And on a busy weeknight, what more can you ask for?

And P.S., the leftovers are just as good the next day!

My Favorite Things: Costco Edition

Costco is a glorious gift to mankind. And parents.

However, it’s so vast and exhausting that unless you want to spend hours there, you may not know the entirety of what Costco can offer you.

Lucky for you, I have wandered Costco many times. {Sometimes looking for items that they discontinued without my permission, but I digress.}

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Costco’s Best Clean-Eating Items (* denotes THM friendly)

  1. Dry Goods Aisles – *Apple cider vinegar WITH “the mother.” It’s raw and unfiltered, just like the slightly more expensive variety in the grocery stores for a much better price ($4.99). *Distilled white vinegar. I use it for laundry and cleaning mostly, but it’s still a better buy in bulk ($2.99). Vega Protein and Greens. The only difference between this and the One formula is that it doesn’t have omega 3s or probiotics, other than that the formula is the same with a lower carb count. *Unsalted mixed nuts (no peanuts, if that’s a concern for you). *Almond butter and peanut butter. I was surprised to learn that Kirkland’s nut butters ONLY contain nuts – no sweeteners or additives of any kind. *Parmesan Whisps. These are basically baked “crackers” that only contain parmesan cheese. They’re fantastic as a chip, crouton, or any other fun use you can think of. Kids like them too! *Coffee, *coconut water, *dried beans and quinoa, *canned tuna and salmon, and *marinara sauce (the Premium Organic Paesana brand uses ZERO sugar and is quite tasty). *Bai is available where the boxed drinks are, and it’s amazing. It’s sweetened with erythritol, which is zero calorie and zero glycemic impact. Some stores carry the flat (pictured), and others carry the bubbles. Big bottles of *vanilla extract are also available on the baking aisle.
  2. Refrigerated Foods – *Cream cheese, *unsalted butter quarters (Kerrygold is also available), * 0% Fage plain yogurt, *half and half, *heavy cream, *bacon (Many varieties – I like the Farmer’s brand and the Kirkland thick-cut.), *cage-free eggs, and *unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
  3. Freezer Aisles – *fruit (they have everything from mango to cherries and berries), *vegetables (I like the broccoli florets and green beans. Mixed are also available), and * Dr. Praeger’s veggie burgers.
  4. Deli Aisles – *cheese (SO MUCH CHEESE. Sliced, shredded, chunk, block. I like to get *asiago blocks – cheaper than Parmesan, *Cabot cheddar blocks, and *sliced cheddar/muenster/havarti. There are also *deli meats available. Which, if you can eat 2lbs in about a week it’s good. If not, stick to the grocery store for that.*Seafood – Costco has the best salmon around, unless you live in a coastal area with an awesome fish monger. In which case, I am jealous. They also have crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops, and tilapia fresh.
  5. Fresh Vegetables and Fruit – I am LOVING their 3-pack of *English cucumbers, and I have a feeling it’s a seasonal item. *Avocados, and any other fruit or veggie that you eat a lot of in a fairly short time. This is bulk buying, so it will be multiple pounds, but you don’t want to buy it solely for the deal and have half of it go bad before you eat it.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp is incredibly versatile and easy cook, but the best  benefit is that my toddler LOVES it. Plus, the added bonus that it literally cooks in 3 minutes.

To keep this meal low carb I serve mine with zucchini noodles, and give the kids zucchini noodles mixed with regular, whole wheat pasta. Kids are growing, they don’t need to worry about carbs and all that mess yet.

If you’re a busy mom, or just busy, you will love this as a mid-week go-to. It takes less than 30 minutes to make, plus it’s easy and fresh.

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Lemony Shrimp Scampi – THM S

  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (I also did tails off)
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • salt and pepper

Place shrimp in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on wooden skewers. You can skip the skewers if you don’t have them, it just makes grilling them easier. Grill 1-2 minutes on each side, until opaque and firm. Drizzle with 2-3 Tsp scampi sauce.

Scampi

  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 stick salted (or unsalted, you will just have to salt it)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Pepper to taste

Melt butter over low heat, grate in garlic and heat through until garlic is fragrant (about 2 minutes, you don’t want color on the garlic). Add pepper to taste and set aside in separate cup, leaving a little (1 Tsp) behind in the pan.

Make zucchini noodles – my favorite is with my Vegetti Pro, with the thin spaghetti blade. Lightly saute noodles in the same pan where you made the garlic butter. I like mine warm and crunchy, so I only saute to heat them up. Place noodles into bowl, top with grilled shrimp and a light sprinkle of parmesan, then squeeze 1-2 lemons wedges over the top. Drizzle on extra garlic butter, if you like. Garnish with a little fresh parsley, and enjoy.

Honey Lime Salmon with Warm Spinach Salad

To me, there is no better seafood than a beautiful, fresh salmon fillet. Part of why I love salmon so much is because it cooks quickly.

This recipe was inspired by a 30-minute meal by Rachael Ray, and usually the problem I have with her meals is that they always take me longer than 30 minutes. Not this one! But I also left out some of the fancier things and added my own jazz to it, so maybe that had something to do with it.

The only key to perfect salmon is not to overcook it. There’s a fine line between well-done salmon and over-done salmon, which is maybe a 1-minute window. Luckily I have some tips to perfectly cooked salmon EVERY time. I know, it’s a big promise, but once you know the secret it’s pretty easy to duplicate.

Honey Lime Salmon

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 6-8oz salmon fillets
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine everything but the salmon in a shallow dish or large freezer bag to make the marinade. When it’s well-combined, add the salmon and turn it a few times in the marinade to coat it evenly. Fish breaks down when it’s in contact with acids (like the lime juice) so you don’t want to marinade the salmon any longer than about an hour. After I started the fish marinating, I started prepping everything else for the spinach and preheating the broiler, so mine marinated in the fridge for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Warm Spinach Salad

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 big handfuls of baby spinach, or 1 bunch of regular leaf spinach cut into strips
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed or 1/2 a box of frozen corn kernels defrosted
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat a medium, high-sided skillet on medium heat with the olive oil. Add the red onion and garlic and saute about 2-3 minutes. When the onion is soft, add the bell pepper and corn and saute about another 2 minutes until the corn is cooked and turns deep yellow. Turn the heat to low and add the spinach, toss until the spinach wilts slightly. Turn the heat all the way off and remove the pan from the heat, add the lime juice and taste for salt and pepper.

Here’s the nitty gritty of cooking the salmon…

Normally, I like to grill the salmon on my indoor electric grill because I like it cooked to about medium. However, doctors frown upon raw fish during pregnancy, so these days I’m cooking it all the way through. I’ll just say the best way to cook salmon without baking it is to start skin-side down.

My method for cooking the salmon all the way and still having it crunchy without being OVER cooked is to start with the broiler. I broiled the salmon fillets on high for about 4-5 minutes, and I had the salmon on a baking sheet on the second level from the top of my oven. You want to keep an eye on the salmon because the thin part of the fillet will cook a lot quicker than the thick side and you don’t want it to burn. When you start to see nice color on the salmon, flip the broiler off and turn your oven to 425. Let the salmon keep cooking through on 425 for about 5-7 more minutes. Because of the honey in the marinade the color will develop quickly on the salmon, but that doesn’t mean it’s burning. The trick to knowing your salmon is ready and cooked-through is to press firmly on the thickest part of the fillet. If it bounces back quickly and has firm resistance, it’s ready! Don’t cut into it, just let it sit on the sheet while the spinach comes together because it will keep cooking for about another minute. When it’s cooked, take it off the baking sheet with a flat spatula. Start on the thick side and slide the spatula between the skin and meat so it will easily separate without breaking the fillet. If the skin sticks, that’s fine, no matter what I do my salmon skin always sticks to the pan.

Serve the salmon on top of the warm spinach and enjoy! Top with lime wedges for a little extra citrus flava’.